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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

$4.00 Poems by Carl Annarummo

I've been meaning to share my notes on this li'l chap for a while but have been so dang busy. Reread it last night. This is cheap entertainment, people, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Perhaps not surprisingly given the purely pragmatic title of the book itself, most of the poems here are untitled. They function as a series of overlapping and interrelated observations, notes to self, monologues, and a running list of books read and music heard. Nouns are important. Things. In the lexicon of $4.00 Poems, the most important words are little with its attendant small. Also recurring are groceries, food and their grocer, death and the flipside birth/life.


the Upton Sinclair, of

ruthless speculators on

aquatic adventures to

often-lisped landscapes

perhaps entirely made of

meats and tawdry towels of

military history, or an

iron city grocer cut off at

the heir of a thousand sorrows

in miscellaneous forms of

boxcar. the golden women of

laissez faired bedhead who

turn off car engines for

a living. a life as

This tiny poem shifts from Sinclair's The Jungle, a landscape of meat, to another landscape of meat and brutality, military history. The presiding iron city grocer (not the expected butcher) is the heir of a thousand sorrows. The tough adjectives ruthless and tawdry muscle in on the softer sounds of lisped, aquatic. The thousand sorrows seem requisite for the drifting off at the poem's end, both beautiful and quiet. The open-ended a life as resonates beyond the poem. Plus, the sort of cast-and-reel motion of the lines, wrapping the way they do, sets up a hopeful feeling, a promise of an eventual catch or nibble. I can't help but think of ED's 341:

After great pain, a formal feeling comes --

The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs --

The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,

And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round --

Of Ground, or Air, or Ought --

A Wooden way

Regardless grown,

A Quartz contentment, like a stone --

This is the Hour of Lead --

Remembered, if outlived,

As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow --

First -- Chill -- then Stupor -- then the letting go --

Another favorite:

en guard! with the concierge

impossibly discussing architecture

and the novel in terms of clothes-

line-pulls and dust jackets mocked

out on supersaver coupons, in front

of a second-run movie theater and

the persuasive intrusion of touche!

we are linked by a common tax bracket!

and a solvent moustache lost in the

history of an brief after-hours duel.

and my hair, in a half hour hat is

slowly broken into little museums

of strip mall kiosks where a handsome

john wayne in a runoff of twill

sends his pelvis perusing, I thought

or, our rouse in a post office with

a man whose general dislike for

american film requires fetching.

"john wayne in a runoff of twill" is alone worth the purchase price. Contact Carl Annarummo via his blog for your copy, or at least go check out Mollusk if you haven't yet.

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